Wednesday, March 31, 2021

A Cow And Her Cat

I had something else in mind and then I saw this. How can you not share it? If you want to see more of these two, their Rumble channel is here.

Tuesday, March 30, 2021

The Problem With Racializing Everything

 ... is that your favorite race will get bitten in the end.

Earlier this week, an Asian was attacked by a black. The motive was racial. Given the stats on hate crimes, that's likely to be an evergreen statement.

In the video of the incident, a pair of security guards nearby did nothing but watch the attack and then close their store doors afterwards. As far as I could tell from watching it, both of them were also black.

If you decide to racialize everything and your preferred race is committing a lot of crimes, leading the league in crimes-per-person, you're doomed to get blown up by your own set of rules. This was perfectly predictable if the racialists had assumed that the people around them possessed free will and an intellect. Judging from the arguments on Twitter, they did not. No surprise there. They have no idea how anything works.

So now both sides are racializing things and there's plenty of ammo to go around. Critical race theory is being shoved down our throats in more and more ways and all that's doing is increasing the caliber of the rounds. Again, this was perfectly predictable if you treated your intellectual opponents like peers. Again, they did not. Again, no surprise.

The only counter I can think of is this.

I have a black friend at work. We'll call him Danny. Danny is a lot of fun. He and I share several interests and he likes my cooking. For that reason alone, Danny should be considered a stellar fellow. Danny is a sweet guy. Danny wouldn't ever hurt anyone. Danny would come to your aid if he saw you attacked. Is he guilty of the hate crime linked above? Should he be linked to it in any way?

Am I guilty of hate crimes linked to people of my "race," whatever that means? Heck, I don't want to be judged by the actions of my siblings, much less people who have similar melanin. In fact, I don't even want to be judged by the actions of our kids. They're all 24 or older and making decisions on their own. Why am I involved in that? There's no logic to any of this.

The whole strategy of racializing things was doomed to backfire from the start. That it's starting to happen in earnest online is no surprise.

The only way out is to see each other as individuals.

Monday, March 29, 2021

Why Not An Old Phone?

This year's Dixie Farming Experiment is to recreate this song from seed. I bought two kinds of watermelon seeds from Southern Exposure, both originating in Georgia. One set are Stone Mountains and the other are Nancies.

Some of the Stone Mountains started to come up over the weekend. Once they did, their progress was rapid. When we left for Mass, the big ones you see at the back were barely peeking out from under the dirt. When we returned, they'd popped out their first leaves.

I thought this would be a great use case for my mobile Raspberry Pi time-lapse kit, so I pulled it out and tried snapping some pictures. They were all blown out. It was too bright for my USB webcam and I didn't have time to fiddle with the settings.

Argh!

This morning, it dawned on me that what I'm trying to replicate is me, standing in the yard, shooting pictures with my phone.

Hmm.

Why not take an old phone, root it, put it on the network via WiFi and set it up to take pictures? After all, it's a networked computer with a camera, right? I usually like the photos they take. The things are designed to produce excellent material for posting online, why not try that? They also take movies and have a decent amount of storage for the resulting files.

To that point, the Economic Times of India has a whole set of ideas for the things. My current Pixel 3's screen is in ruins and it costs almost as much to replace that as it does to buy a newer, but not newest phone.

I like where this is going!

Sunday, March 28, 2021

Good News

Thanks to a tip from Mostly Nothing, I discovered that there's a group in Minneapolis who are trying to restore the black family.

More on this when I have more time.

Raspberry Pi Cameras

I took some time this morning to learn the basics of my high-quality Raspberry Pi camera. I also installed a web app on the Pi that will use the camera as a streaming service. That allows me to watch my adjustments in real time from my SurfaceBook. It works pretty well, but there wasn't enough time to do a real experiment. Instead, I just slapped some stuff together and it was barely functional.

No photos to share because I didn't get that far. The problem isn't the ability to take photos, it's the blurriness of the images.

I'm starting to lean towards getting a simple, modern point-and-shoot that I can control from the Pi's USB port. It sure would be nice to have a real camera with autofocus instead of a real camera you have to dial in by hand using a very laggy display.

Oh well. First World problems, those.

Saturday, March 27, 2021

On Drug Addicts And Fixed Assets

 ... this one blew my mind.

(T)he San Diego Convention Center had been used as a homeless shelter due to the lack of conventions because of the pandemic.

Since I don't read or watch the local news, I had no idea we had done this. Consider this verification number 189,620 proving that our political leaders have no idea how anything works.

It really looks like this. It's spectacularly beautiful. On the inside, it's well-designed and just as attractive.

Way back when, I bought a run-down house so I could scrape the lot and build a custom home. The place was a rental with a pack of low-income people inside. Some of them were drug addicts. In the six months we owned the place before it got razed, they paid the rent once. I looked into eviction law and discovered that in San Diego, the tenants have all the rights.

We played nice with the druggies to avoid court and told them the bulldozer would be arriving at a certain date. They didn't know the law, so they didn't turn it into eviction proceedings. Instead, they were grateful that we didn't press the rent issue and that we didn't smash the place while they were gone and destroy all of their stuff.

They utterly ruined it. If we hadn't intended on flattening it, we'd have flattened it after they left anyway. We weren't angry and I wasn't surprised, it's just what drug addicts do.

Most of the homeless are addicts. According to this documentary from Seattle, it's not a bad bet to say that nearly 100% of them are drug users. On what planet does it make sense to bring drug addicts into your most expensive fixed asset? It gets even better. Now that the addicts have been relocated, they're going to use it as housing for some of the invading illegal aliens.

The Biden Administration is partnering with San Diego to turn the city’s convention center into a temporary shelter to support unaccompanied children seeking asylum in the United States.

They're using our best asset for bring money into the city like it was an ordinary barn.

Or maybe it's more like a giant toaster oven.

Friday, March 26, 2021

Throwing Virgins Into Stalingrad

 ... ought to go into the Mixed Metaphor Hall of Fame.

Recently, I reply-quoted the WaPo on Twitter* with this.

Today, we found out that Ohio State is throwing more resources into the meat grinder of Modern Nazi Race Theory.

Ohio State University recently announced it plans to hire 50 faculty members focused on addressing social equity and racial disparities.

The news comes as an economics professor and higher education watchdog calculated that the public university currently employs 150 diversity officials at a cost of $12 million annually.

Just like Stalingrad, this is an unwinnable campaign. They're not addressing the root cause of racial disparities which is the family. They will have no more impact on the problem then an additional infantry brigade would have had in December, 1942**. 

Most black kids don't grow up in traditional families, they aren't studying, they lack the stability and resources of children from married, two-parent households and all the other blah blah blah I love to repeat ad nauseum. 50 faculty members will do nothing to help the situation. It's just a wasteful publicity gimmick, like a morning counter-attack that recaptures some of the positions you lost yesterday so you can write a press release saying that you're pushing back the enemy.

Fortunately for Ohio State, our news media will dutifully report that however bitter the cold may be, or biting the wind – our Luftwaffe at the Eastern Front Ohio State Diversity Squad is always ready for duty!

* - To my shock, the WaPo did not retract its story nor did it decided to quit publishing and enter a monastery. It's like I was an irrelevance. The effrontery of these people! Now I shall write a strongly-worded letter. That ought to bring results.

** - I realized later that the analogy doesn't work. A fresh brigade would have been thrown into the line, pointing in the right direction and shooting at the right targets. The end would have been the same, but at least they would have taken down a few more enemy troops. Ohio State's faculty are more like an infantry brigade that runs in frantic circles, well behind the lines, shooting into the sky.

Thursday, March 25, 2021

Living Like Bezos

I've spent way too much time lately trying to figure out why we want to import a couple million Spanish-speaking, Central American peasants. Was there a shortage of unskilled, semi-literate workers in the country? Forget about the kids in cages kids in sardine tins, what's the long-term end goal here, aside from bringing in Democrat voters?

My conclusion: There isn't one.

Since my parents' estate is almost settled and much of the money has been paid out, we're significantly less cost-conscious. The other day, I ordered Gulf oysters from Louisiana Crawfish Company. I wouldn't have done that a year ago, but now it's natural.

They fried up nicely.

If that's the way I live now, where $40 isn't a big deal any more, imagine what it's like to be Jeff Bezos. $40,000 isn't a big deal to him. I know the SAT is racist, but here's a SATish simile for you: Oysters are to KT as cars are to Bezos.

Now imagine that you can literally print money. Imagine that you believe in Modern Monetary Theory where printing money is no big deal.

Oysters are to KT as cars are to Bezos as 10,000,000 Honduran peasants are to the Elites. Can we afford them? Of course we can! What's the problem? We'll just print a few trillion more.

Only a white supremacist would disagree.

Wednesday, March 24, 2021

Office Politics

The world is falling apart and we're all doomed.

There. That's my political take on the day's topics, whatever they are, whenever you read this. I know it's a real change from what you normally see here, but I figured I'd switch things up a bit today.

They're The Same People They Were Yesterday

On with the show. 

I retired from my old job and then came back as a consultant to do basically the same job. Now that I'm not so vested in what happens in the hierarchy, I've discovered that office politics bore me. They're irrelevant.

What I've noticed is that the workforce complains about the same behaviors from leadership over and over and over again. It's like they're angry about the stop sign on the street three blocks away.

Monday: "That stop sign! It drives me nuts! I hate it!"

Tuesday: "I can't believe they put that stop sign there. I had to stop at it!"

Wednesday: "Want to know what I hate? That stop sign. It's the worst!"

And so on.

People are who they are. If your boss was a squirrel last week, she'll be a squirrel this week and a squirrel next week as well. As soon as you get the irritants dialed in, you can stop examining them and doing psychoanalysis on her to figure out why she's such a squirrel. She just is.

Instead, you'd be better off figuring out how to work with a squirrel. You can do that, you know. You can even guide a squirrel and help it go where you want it to go. If you figure out what motivates the squirrel, you can focus your energy on giving her the rewards she wants.

There. That's my advice for today. I've been giving it to the kids at work and it seems to be helping.

This is a waterfall photo I took on Maui in 1990. I've finished scanning all of my old photos and I have to say, I'm very grateful for modern, digital cameras. The old film cameras were pretty meh.

Tuesday, March 23, 2021

Whatever Strong Is

 ... these things aren't it.

I'm not sure what to make of the confluence of these stories, but they all make me think of Cardi B being called a "strong, black woman" as she behaves like a degenerate cow. 

It's not strength and it's not art, it's two women trading on their flesh.

There's Portland.

The situation in Portland did not improve after the election. Activists kept marching nightly. They swarmed the house of a newly elected city commissioner because he'd voted against the latest measure to defund the police. They vandalized 27 businesses along a six-block strip in Northeast Portland. They established an "autonomous zone" called Red House, ostensibly in support of a black and Native American family facing eviction. And on New Year's Eve, they used Molotov cocktails and other high-powered incendiary devices to cause tens of thousands of dollars in damage in downtown...

Wheeler brokered a supposed peace with the occupiers at Red House. But on January 6, the Portland Tribune reported that the zone was covered in trash and human filth; that the area, a short walk from where I'd lived until recently, had become unlivable. "There are men walking around with guns, pistols, long arms, shotguns, rifles (who approach you) if you get close to their camp," someone who lived within the zone told the paper. "This is definitely not our neighborhood anymore."

It's not a political movement, it's a tantrum. 

Further, money is not things. That link is a long post in response to the modern economic theory undergirding the stimulus and MMT crowd. Here are two tidbits.

(Summarizing a fallacy from the stimulus crowd): Spend and goods will come. Don't worry about who makes it and why...

(From the stimulus essay): Work incentives don’t matter. For decades, welfare measures in the US have been carefully tailored to ensure that they did not broaden people’s choices other than wage labor.

Well, if so much employment is on an active margin, people choosing employment or not, what other than incentives gets people to choose work? Work is not fun, especially jobs that the disadvantaged can aspire to.

It all makes me think of this uplifting image.

This is infantile. If you are perfect, then so is everyone else and there's no one need for improvement or effort.

Portland is what you get when you discover that Cardi B and stimulus bills don't deliver anything you really wanted. It's childish, deluded fools banging their spoons on their high chairs in the form of a wrecked city. It's the natural consequence of detaching having from earning.

Aaaaand back to Kipling.

In the Carboniferous Epoch we were promised abundance for all,
By robbing selected Peter to pay for collective Paul;
But, though we had plenty of money, there was nothing our money could buy,
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings said: "If you don't work you die."

Monday, March 22, 2021

Real Estate Feeding Frenzy

Wife kitteh and I have been looking for a new house. She wants a single-level place for us in our old age and I want an acre or so of yard. We both want a open floor plan for our parties.

I don't know about where you live, but right now in San Diego, real estate is in a frenzy. Yesterday, I went to see a property and had a scheduled time to meet the seller's agent. I knew there were appointments before and after me. These days, houses typically get bids in the first day or two and end up in a bidding war.

When I got to the place, there were no less than 6 families touring it. The agent hadn't planned an open house, but its mere existence on the market and the fact that he was there meant he could let them see the place on their own if he wanted. I didn't blame him. Why shouldn't he? We all know what the market is like right now.

Normally when you show a house, you get it ready for sale. That can mean new carpet and paint. It certainly means the house is clean and it might even be staged with rented furniture. The yard is cleaned up and everything looks as good as it can. Check out the photos I took yesterday from inside that train wreck of a house.




As near as I could piece together from the artifacts in the place, the owner was an old man and had recently died. It had the look of an elderly fellow who had just thrown in the towel on keeping things clean, organized and maintained. It's possible that he no longer had the mental faculties to even notice that everything was falling apart.

As far as the San Diego real estate market is concerned, this showed how crazed it is. The realtor didn't care what the place looked like. Take it or leave it, there's another load of buyers coming in half an hour.

Buying into a mania is always a bad idea, be it stocks, real estate, art or anything else. I think I'm done with trying to find a new place for now. Instead, we're pondering a remodel of the Catican Compound. We wouldn't get any more land, but we could make enough changes to meet 80% of our requirements.

Sunday, March 21, 2021

Droplets

I still have my rented macro lens so I'll probably shoot some more closeups today just for fun. I'm sold. It's an $800 lens, but to me, it's totally worth it. 

Watering wife kitteh's new flowers yesterday, I noticed droplets on the petals. I pulled out the Nikkor Howitzer and fired away. I left all of the photos below quite large, so I think they're worth a click.

I made sure to get this one just for Tim.

Here are my other favorites from the afternoon shoot. It was absolutely effortless to take these photos. 

Enjoy.



Saturday, March 20, 2021

Leaning Into A Macro Lens

I stopped by our local camera store to look at macro lenses for my Nikon D3500 Artillery Piece and ended up walking out with a rented 105mm Nikkor Howitzer. After I got home, I threw it on my camera body, went outside and shot flowers in autofocus mode. These were among my first eight photos. I left them very large, so I think they're worth a click. Just based on these, I'm sold.




Leaning Into A Left Hook

I heard that our mini-summit with the Chinese in Alaska was a disaster from the get go, so I cruised over to YouTube to watch it. Southeast Asian channels covered it fairly completely and it was indeed a train wreck. Our representative, Antony Blinken, Harvard '84, some self-important inhabitant of the ACELA corridor bubble, greeted the Chinese with short list of accusations and complaints. This was done in the opening statements and on camera.

The Chinese then proceeded to open up on Mr. Ivy League Genius. It turns out that if you run around telling everyone how racist your country is, you've given ample ammunition to your international rivals. The Chinese Man Who Eats With Sticks used that ammunition and more. What was surprising was the depth of his anger and his contempt for the US. 

Blinken ended up cringing and whining about how confident countries could look at their own shortcomings and how everyone needed to know where the other side's perspective. That plays well with the US media, but it signals nothing but weakness to street fighters like the Chinese.

Whether or not it means anything to the rest of us remains to be seen, but it was pretty eye-opening to see the Chinese delegation jam the 1619 Project and BLM down the Americans' throats.

Friday, March 19, 2021

The Other Children Are Outside Playing

 ... can I go out and play, too, Mom?

When I was 9, we moved to Tinker AFB in Oklahoma where we stayed for 3 years. The base housing was assigned by rank so if your dad was a major, you were surrounded by families whose dads were majors. That meant that almost every house on the block had kids your age. It led to massive playtime gatherings in the street. It was awesome. When the mob was outside, you could hear them in your house. It was a siren song and soon everyone was there, running around and having fun.

A few days ago, some nut in Atlanta went into a pair of massage parlors and blew away 6 Asian chicks and 2 white chicks. Caught by the police, he told them he had a sex addiction and said the massage parlors kept drawing him back into his addiction. He said explicitly that the shootings had nothing to do with race, politics or religion.

Ha! What a laugh! Like the guy knew his own motives. We know it was all about race. After all, the shooter was white. White ... white ... white ... supremacist? Yes! That's it! He was a white supremacist!

It took the media, the politicians and the academy no time at all to decry the wild increase in white supremacist attacks on Asians. What fun!

Some idiot right winger wrote a blog post wherein he used DoJ data to show that the increase in anti-Asian crime was dominated by black attackers. What a moron. Data? Really? Who uses data any more? The kids are outside playing in the street! Everyone has put on their Power Rangers costumes and they're pretending to fight white supremacists. 

Mom, can I clean my room later? Where is my costume? I wanna go play, too!

This one from the DA in Portland was typical.

This dude's got his Power Rangers outfit on and is outside already. He's not going to miss any of the fun. Some rando in Atlanta, 2,600 miles away, whacks a few sex workers and he rushes to pose and preen about race.

Hmm. How far are we going to take this? If I ding a Hispanic's car with a shopping cart outside Food 4 Less, will the DA from Oswego County, New York rush to post a very sincere and somber video standing in solidarity with the Hispanic community? "White supremacist assaults on Hispanics' vehicles have grown at an alarming rate ..."

By now, most of the kids have bought Power Ranger communicators and they call each other when a particularly large race-hatred scrum is gathering. When it plays that utterly irritating jingle, they know to stuff their unfinished homework under the mattress so mom can't find it and run outside, telling her that it's all done.


They all made this noise. All of them. Forever. Can you imagine what that was like?

"Billy, I swear to God, if you don't answer that call, I'm going to ram the thing right down your throat. Why can't we program them to have a different ring?"

The news media are the communicator devices and when they go off, only the dorky, right-wing kids stay inside, studying for tomorrow's math test, working out the statistical tables of interracial crime. Everyone else is outside having fun, fighting white supremacists.

Thursday, March 18, 2021

Circles

... from various angles.

I've been wanting to do some macro photography of these guys since they started blooming, but I haven't had the time to do the job right, so I did it quickly this morning. If I wait much longer, the blooms will be gone. 

I left the photos very large, except for the first one which is 1-1. I think they're worth a click or two. Enjoy!




Wednesday, March 17, 2021

Chicken Tapioca

 ... would be gross. Fried chicken with a tapioca flour coating, however, is heavenly.

Wife kitteh is off on an extended road trip with one of our sons, driving from Seattle to Chicago and back. No, it doesn't make any sense to me, either, but there you have it. I'm using the time to experiment with some recipes. Last night, I made some fried chicken using tapioca flour and some with masa flour as the coating.

Like I said, fried chicken with tapioca flour was heavenly. Here's the seasoning mix for the flour.

  • 1/2 cup tapioca flour
  • 1 tbsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp Slap Ya Mama
  • 1/4 tsp garlic
  • 1/4 tsp onion powder
  • 1/4 tsp poultry seasoning

I did the same ratios for the masa flour mix. The chicken was soaked in buttermilk for about two hours ahead of time. I didn't use an egg wash or second coating. I was aiming for the lightest of crusts, crunchy, but without the greasiness.

Did I mention the chicken fried in the tapioca flour coating was heavenly? Here's what it looked like.

The flour mixtures, masa on the right.

The thigh got the masa and the drumsticks got the tapioca flour.

10 minutes at 325-350 degrees kind of burned the masa flour coating, but left the tapioca coating utterly divine. As a matter of record, the masa wasn't really burned, it just deformed itself like that. It has a strong taste and overpowered the spices. It was good, but not great. I'd pick regular flour over masa.

Bonus photo: I also made stewed okra with tomatoes from this recipe over at Southern Living. It's one of my favorite food photos ever. So colorful!

H/T: A friend from junior high school that discovered me on Facebook recommended the tapioca flour. As near as I can tell, he worked for a while as a chef in New Orleans. His suggestions are always excellent as he's spent a lot of time experimenting with his cooking.

Tuesday, March 16, 2021

Decolonize Your Music

Harry James was a racist. Cardi B is a strong, black woman.

You know what you need to do.

Monday, March 15, 2021

What If Just One Person Said It?

When I first learned that electricity is carried only on the outside of the wire and nothing travels through the center, I thought it was total nonsense. I was then shown the differential equations that proved it and I still thought it was madness. In any case, it's been proven true over and over again.

In the middle of our current cultural insanity, it's dawning on me that the lunatic ideas we hear all around us have only a single thing going for them - they're popular. Imagine how you'd react if the idea wasn't part of a common topic of conversation, but something you didn't think about very often.

Let's start with an illustrative example.

"The world is perched on the back of a turtle."

"What?"

"The world is perched on the back of a turtle."

"You're a nut."

You would naturally categorize the turtle-perch theorist as a crackpot and all further missives from him would be viewed with great skepticism, particularly if he told you that electricity only flows on the outside of the wire.

Now let's try a recent example.

"This Dr. Seuss book should be banned."

"What? Why?"

"It mentions a Chinese man who eats with sticks and has a drawing of him."

"So?"

"That's racist!"

"Why? Chinese men eat with sticks. The book was written for 4-year-olds. If they've never seen someone eat with chopsticks, they'd think it was funny."

"It's still racist!"

"No, you're a nut."

Again, stickophobe would be categorized as a loon and you'd disregard them from there on out.

The moral of the story is that we're only listening to the crackpots because there are so many of them. The moral of the electrical wire story is that true is true even if only one person says it. 

The number of people holding a belief is irrelevant.

This is Cardi B doing a pole dance at the recent Grammys. No matter how many people repeat it, she is not a strong, black woman. She's a degenerate and so are all the people involved with this.

Sunday, March 14, 2021

Honor, Schmonor

My dad was West Point, class of 1949. He lived his life by their Honor Code. "A Cadet will not lie, cheat, steal, or tolerate those who do."

Recently, Tucker Carlson lit into President Biden for prioritizing pregnant women in the military over the threat from China. Here's the segment.

Since that segment aired, admirals, generals and PAO staffers have gone on social media to criticize Tucker and defend women in the military. I did a cursory look through their content and I noticed that they had deliberately misstated his position, expanding it to an attack on women in general. He absolutely did not say that.

What happened to the Honor Code? What happened to military brass staying out of politics?

Some dude says, "Pregnancy flight suits? Really? Also, dig the size and growth of the Chinese Navy!" The brass reply with, "We support women in the military!"

Huh?

Bonus Take: Man, Biden looks awful. The blank expression on his face as he struggles to read his teleprompter suggests to me that he can see the words, but inside his head, he's trying to figure out what they mean.

Super Special Bonus Take: At the very end, Tucker reveals that the CNO's reading list includes Ibram Kendi's Mein Kampf. That fits in well with the whole "Diversity is our strength" thing. What has yet to be explained is how we've been fought to a draw by a group, the Taliban, whose entire raison d'ĂȘtre is to put an end to diversity. You'd think that with our massive diversity advantage, we'd have trounced them easily.

Saturday, March 13, 2021

Soviet Debug Time

I've got a little free time over the weekend, so I'm playing with my Pi cameras. I'm pretty unhappy with the quality I'm getting from my Logitech webcams, but I haven't been able to dial them in yet so there still might be an ideal combination of parameters that will produce good material. 

Their photos are inconsistent because their auto-adaptation features are adjusting with every shot. Even when that doesn't happen, the results aren't great. Here's the birdbath taken with the Pi3 powered by a solar battery using a Logitech C920e webcam.

Meh.

I'm creating a PHP web page that will allow you to change the settings on the camera and then take a shot. I also want to set up a webcam page where I can just see what's coming out of the camera in real time. I had to fight with it for a bit this morning because the Linux photo app didn't want to allow the website to take the picture. An hour of debug solved the permissions problem and we're past that hurdle. Now on to video and manipulating the camera settings.

I don't think I'll have time today to swap the Pi3 for the Pi4 on the TomatoCam so I can play with my new high-quality Pi camera. That one has a real lens, not a pinhole like the Logitechs. It has a great deal of promise, but there's no time to explore it.

Soviet News

I thought this essay by Matt Taibbi was brilliant. I recognize his name, but I can't associate him with a political side, so I don't know whether to love him or hate him. Instead, I just read the essay. Matt is a nut for Soviet newspapers and has quite the collection. He's making the connection between the Soviet rags and our own news media. Tidbits:

Some of the headlines in the U.S. press lately sound suspiciously like (Soviet newspaper) kind of work:

Biden stimulus showers money on Americans, sharply cutting poverty

Champion of the middle class comes to the aid of the poor

Biden's historic victory for America

The most Soviet of the recent efforts didn’t have a classically Soviet headline. “Comedians are struggling to parody Biden. Let’s hope this doesn’t last,” read the Washington Post opinion piece by Richard Zoglin, arguing that Biden is the first president in generations who might be “impervious to impressionists.” Zoglin contended Biden is “impregnable” to parody, his voice being too “devoid of obvious quirks,” his manner too “muted and self-effacing” to offer comedians much to work with. 

I thought the same thing when I saw the Biden Stimulus headline. Nauseating. Matt goes on, comparing the coverage of absolutely identical policies from Trump and Biden:

When Biden decided not to punish Saudi Prince Mohammed bin Salman for the murder of Washington Post writer Jamal Khashoggi on the grounds that the “cost” of “breaching the relationship with one of America’s key Arab allies” was too high, the New York Times headline read: “Biden Won’t Penalize Saudi Crown Prince Over Khashoggi’s Killing, Fearing Relations Breach.” When Donald Trump made the same calculation, saying he couldn’t cut ties because “the world is a very dangerous place” and “our relationship is with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia,” the paper joined most of the rest of the press corps in howling in outrage.

My bet is that the news media, needing clicks, is simply feeding its readers what they want to hear for fear of driving them away. Conservatives ditching Fox because they called Arizona too early was a warning for all of them. Their readers are strict and voracious carnivores and demand raw meat at all times. 

That would be fine if you thought the newsies were cynics, able to tell the difference between nuanced reality and the Party's latest talking points, but I'm not sure they are. My interactions with one AP writer showed him to be precisely what conservatives suspect - a blinkered ideologue who shuts down the conversation when confronted with doubt-inducing questions.

Oh well. We're called to serve our fellow man and that calling isn't dependent on the political climate of the moment.

Off to learn how to create beauty. Have a nice day, everyone.

Friday, March 12, 2021

Go Home, North Face, You're Drunk

Exhibit #47,891 showing that the Social Justice crowd has no idea how anything works.

Thursday, March 11, 2021

Cooking Frozen Food

Yesterday afternoon, while wife kitteh was out doing something for Jesus and the hungry, I stumbled down to the kitchen to figure out dinner. As usual, nothing was thawed. Sifting through the wreckage in the freezer, I came across a trio of beef short ribs. Hmm. They're good slow-cooked, but they were frozen solid. What to do?

Recalling my Organic Chemistry and Heat Transfer classes, I realized the warm fluids can thaw frozen things. Eureka! I had it! Put the short ribs in a warm bath and soon they would be thawed. Where could I find such a bath? 

How about the InstaPot? Could I cook them, starting from a frozen block? There was only one way to find out.

Realizing that wife kitteh would never sanction such madness, I worked feverishly to throw things into the pot before she got back. This also gave me more time to drink and yell at the dogs.

I started with a cup and a half of water to make sure things didn't burn as they thawed. I tossed in a frozen, 2-cup block of homemade beef stock. In for a dime, in for a dollar, you know. Carrots, bell pepper, onion, thyme and rosemary rounded out the mix before I threw in the short ribs. Some Slap Ya Mama was added to keep things Catican Bayou-ish.

I set the Instapot for low pressure pressure cooking and gave it an hour to work its magic. I figured by then, everything would have thawed and I could gauge the mess, adding what seemed to be missing.

It worked splendidly. Using both water and the stock made it more of a soup than a stew, so when the hour was up, I bombarded the pot with corn starch, flour, file powder and even some Gravy Master. Think of it as the culinary equivalent of the Navy shelling Iwo Jima with every gun they had. The taste was lacking, so I added more Slap Ya as well as a bay leaf, some savory and who knows what else.

I resealed the Cauldron of Instantiation and set it to high pressure cooking for 30 minutes. By then, wife kitteh was home, but there was nothing she could do. Like Dr. Frankenstein's therapist, once the monster had been created, the best she could hope for was to keep the damage to a minimum.

It came out great. The fluids never thickened, but it tasted fine. Serving with a slotted spoon got you all the meaty and vegetably goodness. The odd sloshes of the broth were sopped up with French bread.

Lesson Learned: You can skip the thawing and go straight to cooking if you want to do a stew, soup or other slow-cooked meal.

Artist's conception of me cooking.

Random Irritant: The 40mm AA guns blazing away in this scene drive me crazy. Just what were their targets? I don't recall any Japanese air attacks during the bombardment.

Pi Update

The new HQ camera works with the Pi4, but not the Pi3. Argh. I bought it for the Pi3.

Since I have to get to work, I don't have time to debug or play with it. Double argh.

Wednesday, March 10, 2021

Creating

 ... is better than snarking.

Dave Rubin's The Rubin Report is one of my favorite podcasts. These days, when I download a 'cast, if the synopsis reads like something I could formulate myself, I skip it and go on to The Romanovs or Fr. Mike Schmitz' excellent The Bible in a Year.

The other day, Dave hosted Trump-fanatic Michael Knowles, trans-expert author Abigail Shrier and journalist and essayist Nancy Rommelmann for a round-table discussion of the left's descent into madness and censorship. It was relatively predictable and I don't agree with their analyses, preferring my own drama-queen one, but it had this nugget of genius from Nancy.

I had thought this, but she put it into words better than I had in my head. I think about this all the time now. It's the reason I've been diving so deep into time-lapse photography. I want to learn how to create things that make people smile. I bought a SurfaceBook so I could learn how to draw with the goal of exploring surrealism. I've been reading Kipling with an eye towards experimenting with poetry. And so on.

I got a very nice compliment from a friend about a throwaway cloud video I'd posted on Facebook. He talked about using something like it as a backdrop for a talk at a Catholic retreat. That's exactly the result I want.

More Experimental Data

I now have two functional Raspberry Pis, each with a USB webcam attached. Both are now portable as I have a chargeable battery and a solar-powered chargeable battery to supply juice to them.

I hate the cameras.

The still photos are totally unpredictable. I've discovered how to manually set their parameters like brightness, contrast and saturation and allegedly how to turn off their automatic features, but I can't get a consistent result from one photo to the next. It's beyond frustrating.

Yesterday, I put my Logitech C920e in our bedroom and took photos of the art on one of our walls. No matter what I did with the settings, I couldn't find a stable combination. With the exact same settings, photos taken just seconds apart came out wildly different. I suspect that the camera is filming all the time and a "photo" is just a frame in its mpg stream. 

Perhaps what I'm seeing is an artifact of the video compression scheme? Who knows? I'm pondering an experiment where I drop a cinderblock from the upstairs balcony onto the thing to see if that helps, but I'll reserve that as a last resort.

Today, I've got a sensor and lens kit coming that will connect directly to my Pi 4's camera socket. All it does is read its Sony IMX477 12.3 MP sensor and feed you the result. You can manually set everything, or so the marketing blurb says. I'm looking forward to that. If it works as advertised, then a pair of those, one fixed as the TomatoCam and one portable for cloud / bird / ocean / whatever movies, could provide plenty of raw material for fun videos.

Tuesday, March 09, 2021

Meghan Markle Points The Way!

OK, I think I finally have it dialed in and I can now relax and simply post snarks when the mood hits me. The racism / bigotry / hate thing, I mean. It's all just teenage-girl, drama-queen trash. Oprah's interview with the ex-royals or whatever they are, helped point the way.

"Golly, Meghan, you've had it so hard! You think someone didn't like you because of some practically undetectable racial characteristic and now you have to live in a $16M mansion on only $7M a year? Why, you're just like me! I'm worth billions and I still have to deal with hate and discrimination. It's simply horrible!"

Here's a simple test for you. Imagine you're talking to a paraplegic. They were born with crippled legs and have spent their whole life in a wheelchair. Nearly everything you take for granted is a struggle for them. Now tell them your troubles. Make it dramatic. Did you hear a Forbidden Word? Did you see a bumper sticker?  No wonder you need a safe space! Where's your emotional support animal?

Now imagine that you don't belong to a victim group, so you can't claim oppression. How can you cash in on the craze? Defend them! Be an ally and fight for their rights! After all, they hear Forbidden Words and see bumper stickers. So much Hate™. You're a hero for standing between them and ... whoever it is. If it weren't for them, you'd have to gain attention by accomplishing something real and who wants that?

Meanwhile, the paraplegic lives in a world of obstacles. You? Not so much.

I know a guy at work who is blind. He's got an advanced degree in physics or engineering. I met him when he wrote to me about our web apps not being accessible enough. I met with him and learned how he surfs the web with a text-to-speech browser addition. It was unreal.

Essentially, blind people have to make a mental map of each website. Using the tab key, they hop through the web page's Document Object Model, remembering the tree as they go. When they have to log in, they stop and type in their username and password in the right spots. As I sat with him and he demonstrated it to me, I was blown away.

I can't even imagine what it was like to read physics texts in Braille. How would you encode the differential equations? Crazy, man.

Meanwhile, Meghan Markle and Princess Harry whined about dealing with their perceptions of racial animus while enjoying perfect health, mountains of cash and public adulation. We didn't all point and laugh because we want that sweet, sweet, drama-queen goodness, too.

After all, one time, a while back, I saw a picture in a Dr. Seuss book that probably was offensive to some other drama queens and it traumatized me.

This was one of my kids' favorite books. No wonder they're tough. They lived through hearing me say, "A Chinese man who eats with sticks." That's as bad as being a paraplegic.

Monday, March 08, 2021

Every Picture Tells A Story

 ... and in this case, two pictures tell of a nation in conflict.

A young man who can't read, has no marketable skills and whose family, such as it is, doesn't take responsibility for its future.

Immigrants pouring across our open border with modest marketable skills, probably literate in one language and who are taking responsibility for their futures.

Who gets the job?

Saturday, March 06, 2021

It's Not Politics, It's Not Racism

This story hit me so hard that I still haven't processed it all. I've only done this once before, but I'm going to skip writing tomorrow and leave this partially-coherent post at the top of the blog.

Note: I've seen plenty of kids like this up close. This is a near-perfect example of why I keep ranting that race doesn't matter. Only one of the kids that I've known in this sitch were black, but they all had the exact same mechanisms of failure as the one in this story.

From the text of the story: 

A Baltimore high school student failed all but three classes over four years and almost graduated near the top half of his class with a 0.13 GPA, according to a local report.

The dude is from Augusta Fells Savage Institute of Visual Arts in Baltimore. He had a 0.13 GPA and was at the middle of his class. That means half of his class had a GPA below 0.13. The school is 97% black and is located in West Baltimore, which is a very black part of a very black town. Democrats have held the mayoral seat for more than 60 years. All of the city council are Democrats. Plenty of the people in the city's power structure are black. The school district, last I checked, is the 4th most expensive one in the country.

Oh, and only 1%, meaning 0-1%, of the students at this school tested proficient in English.

The woman is unmarried. She works three jobs because she doesn't have a husband to support her family. Before you pass judgment on her, ask yourself what any of our cultural leaders, like the one that interviewed Joe Biden during the campaign, would say about sex outside of marriage. What has this woman been told by our Elites all her life? What has she done wrong according to them?

Back to the boy's mechanism of failure. There was no father. There was no expectation of performance. No one looked at the kid's report cards. No one checked his homework. No one looked at the tests he brought home. Many days, he didn't even bother to show up for school. He was raised without discipline. Neither he nor his mother grasp the concept of personal responsibility. Instead, they ask why the government failed them.

He had a 0.13 GPA and was at the middle of his class. That means half of his class had a GPA below 0.13. The school is 97% black. The school is well-funded and the city is run by people devoted to the suppression of white nationalist extremism.

You could edit the story and make it about an inner-city school in Milwaukee, Chicago, Detroit, Jackson, Memphis or Cleveland and it would read the same. You could edit the story and make it about a school in a white, rural town where the opioid epidemic is out of control and it would read the same. You could edit the story and make it about a school in one of our barrios and it would read the same.

I will forgo my usual snark and leave it here.

Addendum: In the video, when the kid's hand reached for the video game controller, I wanted to cry and throw up at the same time. He was medicating his pain of failure with cheap, temporary entertainment. That shot was staged, but how many times had it happened for real in the last 10 years of his life?

Friday, March 05, 2021

Defending The Capital From QAnon

 ... might be the most surreal thing I've ever seen in American politics.

I was tempted to simply bump this post today and call it quits, but the delusional insanity gripping the Elites is worth a few paragraphs.

What planet do these loons call home? A QAnon insurrection? Really? And we've got National Guard troops stationed in DC with walls and razor wire? I must have missed the memo. I listen to that white supremacist gay dude, Dave Rubin, most days. I can't recall him calling for a revolution and he's pretty tuned-in to the far-right extremist fringe. When I saw headlines from other media outlets saying there was "credible information" regarding an attack on DC, but I heard nothing about it from the mainstream conservative blogs and podcasts, it just illustrated how totally nuts the left is.

If you're defending your capital, it almost always means the war is lost. Digging trenches around Richmond in 1865 or Berlin in 1945 were signs that you didn't have long to live as a nation. When the rest of the country is crawling with enemy soldiers and your own forces are in tatters, that's when you erect barricades and barbed wire in your capital.

Here in San Diego, it was sunny and warm yesterday. I took the Catican Guards to play at the local public school, which was closed for the pandemic to save the teachers' lives. I couldn't take them to the local Catholic school because that was open for in-classroom learning, because our far-right, hateful, extremist, bigoted religion gives us immunity.

In any case, while our "leaders" prepared for a siege, we grilled steaks and drank wine with friends.

Our Elites are completely insane.

I'll close with a picture from the post linked above wherein I chronicled a white supremacist rally in San Diego.

The supremacists started their march here. You can't quite see how big the crowd was from this shot. It was probably a good 50% larger than it looks. I barely had time to use my coupons at Vons as I bought a week's worth of groceries, returned some shellfish that weren't fresh when I bought them the day before, rented a Rug Doctor and got a propane tank filled before I fled in terror.

Thursday, March 04, 2021

Machines Don't Generate Electricity

 ... people do.

Wretchard the Cat made this intriguing point on Twitter a while back, referring to the Venezuelan economic collapse wherein blackouts across the country became the norm. As the socialists cut the pay for engineers to make a more equitable society, those engineers left the country. When things started to wear out and break down in the power plants, as all things do, there was no one left to repair them. They may have had the raw materials, but they didn't have the expertise any more. And thus, the lights went out.

Back at the dawn of the Internet, I found a website that was a news aggregator for stories from Africa. Probably because I thought the name of the country sounded goofy, I read all of the news coming out of Zimbabwe. When I started, Zimbabwe had a functioning economy and was an exporter of agricultural goods. They were doing pretty well.

When Robert Mugabe started to persecute the white farmers, taking their land and breaking their farms into small plots to transition to black-owned subsistence farming, everything began to collapse. The white farmers fled, mostly to England, and things spiraled downward. No longer an exporter, but still requiring foreign credit to buy fuel and machinery, the country went into debt and then defaulted. They printed ever larger denominations of money, but all they accomplished was to become a laughingstock and see their people die of malnutrition and disease.

Pondering our own, upcoming fiscal crisis and having seen how others recover from them, what strikes me is that a currency collapse wipes out savings, but it leaves you with your natural resources, physical plant and whatever human capital that doesn't flee and hasn't been debased. The first two are all well and good, but it's the third one that matters the most.

Japan became a global powerhouse without natural resources, but with tremendous human capital. Venezuela became a basket case with tremendous natural resources, but their human capital ran away. How about us?

Dig this.

We will need everyone to be their best when we finally run aground on the rocks of fiscal profligacy. Diluting our educational system in pursuit of racial idiocies is going to put us closer to the Zimbabwe / Venezuela camp. By the way, if you think this is an outlier, dig what we're doing here in San Diego.

I'm coming to the conclusion that we won't ever have the appetite for fiscal discipline because we prize compassion so much. We're going to have to get smacked in the face with a currency crisis to learn our lesson. When it happens, it sure would be nice to have a competent workforce that can dig its way out of the mess. 

Wednesday, March 03, 2021

On Cameras And Kids

Well, it turns out you can take a photo with a Nikon D3500 triggered by a Raspberry Pi if you use a program called gphoto2. Unfortunately, with the D3500 and only the D3500, it hangs with the first photo, but will take a second one. All other DSLRs work fine with gphoto2. It's a known bug.

There is a Windows program out there called digiCamControl that works extremely well at DSLR control. Not only will it take photos and download them to your computer, but you can set it to do time-lapse. It will also record video, if your camera allows it, which my Artillery Piece does. Best of all, you can view your camera's preview screen on your computer and use that for manual focus before you shoot.

Combining digiCamControl with my new Microsoft SurfaceBook makes a devastating pair, particularly for astronomy photos. digiCamControl even has astronomy-optimized settings. 

A whole bunch of problems just got solved.

Now here's the toad in the soup. If I use the Artillery Piece to shoot time-lapse movies with 1 photo per second over an hour, that's 3600 shutter clicks. I looked up the MTBF for the Nikon 3500 and I got varying numbers from 50,000 to 500,000. There was a consensus around 150,000. This means that a single time-lapse session would use up roughly 2.5% of my camera's life. As much fun as time-lapse videos are, they're not worth pounding my best camera into the ground.

I ordered another webcam, one that takes 1080p video, to connect to my Raspberry Pi3 as a portable time-lapse system. The Pi uses so little current that my portable USB charger will run it for days and days and days. I think we're good there. In the meantime, there are experiments to be run with digiCamControl and video capture. We're going to get rain today, so the sky should provide some drama. Results tomorrow.

Update: No results tomorrow. I brought the Artillery Piece outside, connected everything and ... the battery died. The sky was absolutely perfect with the rain clouds just on the horizon. While the battery charged, the clouds rolled in and the opportunity was lost. Like my father used to say, "I'm reduced to four-letter words."

Kids In Cages, Kids In School

As we all know, it's racist to force teachers to go back to school. It's also racist to put kids in cages, but not to put them in mesh-wire-housing or whatever the cringing lapdogs in the press are calling it these days. Some right-wing sites are honking a new study that suggests 3,000,000 American children have simply fallen off the radar when it comes to school. They haven't used the distance learning at all.

Note: Most Catholic schools have been back in session since the Fall without many problems. It looks like there are some advantages to be a papist who denies SCIENCE!

Political advantages aren't the issue for me. I started thinking about what a lost school year or two means to the workforce of the future, the one that will be picking cotton and singing spirituals as they pay off our debts. Dittos for the effects of the anti-racist policies that have eliminated homework and testing in some of our school districts. Those young adults won't be nearly as capable and won't be able to produce as much value as their predecessors.

Debt Recovery

It's beginning to dawn on me that when the currency crisis comes, the real question won't be the crisis itself, but the recovery. With a less-capable workforce, the recovery might be slower, longer and have a lower final GDP.

While it's fun to make short-term political points out of our public education industry's lack of industriousness, the long-term question is how to bounce back from a debt default.

Hmm.

Tuesday, March 02, 2021

Artillery Pi

The Pi3 arrived yesterday. It was even faster to set up than the Pi4, but I attribute that to a faster WiFi connection rather than anything else. In any case, it's up and running with Apache web server and PHP on it.

As it will be used remotely, I bought a portable phone charger to power it. This one, in fact. Right now, I've got my Pi4 running a ping command every 2 seconds to see how long the Pi3 will run on the battery. The system looks like this.

Thanks to wife kitteh, it's a very festive Pi3.

I don't have time to test the camera connection right now. That will have to wait until tonight. Last weekend, I tried hooking the camera up to my Ubuntu server and taking a picture through that, but while the camera identified itself over the USB port, it refused to admit that it was, in fact, a video capture device. Like a pouting girlfriend, it wouldn't respond to the server and so I gave up until the Pi3 arrived. Maybe it will have more luck. If not, there are commands to make the Pi3 recognize it as a video device via the camera's unique ID.

This is fun!

Monday, March 01, 2021

Misreading The Moment

 ... and thinking it will last forever is a big mistake.

There are some marketing and sales tricks I try to teach my kids at work*. Here are a few.

  1. When there's a problem that needs to be solved, go into the meeting with your candidate solution ready. Almost no one else will have done so. You may not leave with everything you want, but chances are you'll get 80% of it.
  2. When you brief a VIP, have someone sit in the room and write down the questions they ask. Nothing else, just the questions. No one asks about things which don't matter to them. In a 30-minute presentation, you will get a very good idea of what motivates the VIP.
  3. Whenever you go into a meeting, whether you're the leader or not, start out by asking the participants to finish this sentence: "At the end of this meeting, we will have ____." That forces everyone to focus on the purpose of the meeting and cuts down on twigging.

Ohioan will doubtlessly have others to add.

The top-level lesson is to always have a set of goals. What is it you're trying to accomplish? Each meeting, each briefing, is an opportunity to get closer to those goals. Don't waste them because you can't get them back.

With that in mind, take a listen to just a few minutes this struggle session. Here's the tweet with some reference points about it. I don't know who these people are and I'm not suggesting they're real movers and shakers, but they sound a lot like our local teachers' union reps, our school board, the SJWs at work and so forth.

They are completely misreading the moment and wasting absolutely irreplaceable leverage. This won't last and when it goes away, it won't come back again.

Davy Jones of the Monkees used to tell a story about being in the cast of Oliver! wherein he was nominated for a Tony Award. The thing was a smash hit and he was very young. At a penthouse party in NYC, he found himself looking out over the city with Liza Minnelli at his side. She told him to soak up the moment because successes like that were so very rare.

I've been struggling on this blog for quite some time to make sense of the racial madness, but I've been looking at it from the wrong end. What should the SJWs be doing with their fleeting moment of power? What can you divine from what they're doing? These three things hit me as soon as I thought about how one might make use of the enormous leverage they've got.

  1. If you wanted to make a positive difference for the average person, you'd fight for the family. It's the key to life in their communities. Push back on the cultural degenerates. Imagine going on Jimmy Kimmel's show and saying that he and his industry need to stop feeding cultural trash to the public. What could he say? You're the one of the Sacred Ones and you cannot be criticized. This is your moment to turn the ship around.
  2. There's absolutely zero organization at work here. Oh sure, there's BLM and all sorts of other hangers-on, but outside of grift for the individuals and maybe the sugar rush of some kind of reparations, no lasting change will occur. They have no substantive goals. Fighting hate, fighting an emotion, is like fighting the fog. You can't characterize success sufficiently to accomplish anything real.
  3. My final conclusion is that everyone is in it for themselves. In the call linked above, most of the participants seem to want to insult and belittle others. Seriously? You've got practically unlimited power and all you want to do is waggle your head and shake your finger at people? That's it? Pathetic.

Amateurs!

Bonus Analysis: The worst part is in the content of that call and point number 3 above. By sneering at others, they are actively shortening their moment of power in exchange for absolutely nothing. Unbelievable.

Solar-powered Garden Sensors

Chatting with some fellow geeks last night, we discussed using solar cells to power a Raspberry Pi. This morning, I ordered a set of soil moisture meters that connect to a Pi. Add a solar cell and a case and I can monitor my raised beds from a web page.

Speaking of that, my TomatoCam now posts its photos to a website I've got within the Catican Compound network. I've only got four pictures, so there's not much change happening, but within a few weeks, there ought to be a visible difference.

My Raspberry Pi 3 shows up tomorrow, so I'm hoping to have it take photos using my Nikon D3500 Artillery Piece by the end of the week. Hurrah!

I need a Raspberry Pi to manage my garden. Lord knows these three aren't going to be any help.

* - Everyone in the office is young enough to be my child. Or maybe I'm old enough to be their dad. Whatever.